By contributing writer Colleen.
It finally feels like spring is here, and I love getting outside to work with my kids in our yard. I want them to feel connected to their world, and gardening, planting, pruning, and playing outside all help them relate to nature, and in turn, want to protect the environment.
It becomes more about being good stewards of the world they’ve been given, rather than something they should do just because people say they should.
A few years ago, we started a compost pile to show them ways we could reduce and recycle waste. Composting with the kids was great fun and super easy to do with little ones.
What is composting?
Compost is a nutrient-rich soil that is created when organic materials like leaves, grass clippings, and food scraps are allowed to decompose naturally.
By creating a composting bin in your yard, you’re trapping beneficial microorganisms within the pile of organic materials, and speeding up the process of decomposition. You’re left with a dark brown, crumbly soil that smells like a forest floor. It’s amazingly nutritious for your garden and house plants.
There are many reasons to compost with your kids. Here are a few:
- Organic waste (fruit peels, egg shells, grass clippings, vegetable scraps, etc.) makes up more than 30% of the trash that ends up in our landfill.
- Plants are healthier and hardier when you grow them from soil rich in composted nutrients.
- When you add moisture to compost-rich soil, it is retained better, making plants healthier.
- Compost can make sandy soil usable.
- Home composting is a great opportunity to teach kids about recycling and about the natural cycle of life.
- It’s fun.
How to compost
So, how do you do it? How do you and your kids build a compost pile in the yard?
- Choose a location: Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t really matter if your pile is in a sunny or shady spot. It’s the microorganisms at work that heat your pile up. It should, however, be at least two-feet away from any structures and in a well-drained spot.
- Decide on a pile or bin: Composting doesn’t require any special equipment. You can start a simple pile in your backyard or purchase a special bin for it. A bin keeps it contained and might make the decomposition process go faster, but either works.
- Load it up with materials: Fill your compost bin or pile with about 60% chopped up brown leaves and 40% grass clippings and food scraps. You don’t really need to chop everything up, but it will speed the process.
- Add water: As you build your pile, water from time to time. The microbes need moisture to survive – but not too much. Tell your child that you need to keep it as damp as a wrung-out sponge.
- Turn your pile: Once a day, use a shovel or pitchfork to turn your pile, breaking up clumps and infusing oxygen into the material so your microorganisms thrive. You’ll keep your compost healthier and it will work faster.
Are you ready to start your own compost pile? You and your kids will learn a lot and your garden will thank you.
You might also like…
- Compost Cups Science Project
- DIY Compost Bin
- Solutions to Common Composting Problems
- More posts from Colleen